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Indigenous Rights Quotes

* "We are all indigenous people on this planet, and we have to reorganize to get along."
-- Rebecca Adamson

For Indigenous people, the goal for our land is definitely about protection, but it’s also about use. We see ourselves as so integrated with our territory that our protection is tied to our use and our use is tied to our protection. We use the resources on our territory to live.
-- Rebecca Adamson

In every Indigenous community I’ve been in, they absolutely do want community infrastructure and they do want development, but they want it on their own terms. They want to be able to use their national resources and their assets in a way that protects and sustains them. Our territories are our wealth, the major assets we have. And Indigenous people use and steward this property so that they can achieve and maintain a livelihood, and achieve and maintain that same livelihood for future generations.’
-- Rebecca Adamson

In Indian country, we should probably insist, first off, that our ancestors have never gotten the credit they deserve from this country for surviving. Survival wasn't as easy then as it seems now, and they never would have made it if they'd spent centuries wandering in a daze until they came across a dead buffalo beside a cold spring, with a lightning strike for fire somewhere in the background. To the contrary, tribes cooperated with and among each other on everything from buffalo hunts to the fish catch and crop harvests, none of which could have happened if our tribes had not known all about self-governance.
-- Rebecca Adamson

When European explorers 'discovered' lands on the other continents, there were already people living there. All too often the explorers took the land away from the native or indigenous peoples and either killed them or suppressed them. In many cases, the native languages and cultures were suppressed and the natives were forced to adopt Western ways. Unfortunately, this isn't just a thing of the past -- many indigenous peoples and their cultures are still threatened today.
-- Robert Alan Silverstein

* Since the beginning, Native Peoples lived a life of being in harmony with all that surrounds us. It is a belief that all humankind are related to each other. Each has a purpose, spirit and sacredness. It is an understanding with the Great Spirit or Creator that we will follow these ways. And in this understanding we believe we are related to all other living species...
-- Dennis Banks
Although wrongs have been done me I live in hope. I have not got two hearts… Now we are together again to make peace. My shame is as big as the earth, although I will do what my friends advise me to do. I once thought that I was the only man that persevered to be the friend of the white man, but since they have come and cleaned out our lodges, horses, and everything else, it is hard for me to believe white men anymore.
-- Chief Black Kettle

* The native American has been generally despised by his white conquerors for his poverty and simplicity. They forget, perhaps, that his religion forbade the accumulation of wealth and the enjoyment of luxury... Furthermore, it was the rule of his life to share the fruits of his skill and success with his less fortunate brothers. Thus he kept his spirit free from the clog of pride, cupidity, or envy, and carried out, as he believed, the divine decree—a matter profoundly important to him.
-- Charles Eastman (Ohiyesa)

If people lose their land, they have nothing. You lose your land -- you lose your culture, you lose self.
-- Richard Gere

[C]ivilization has ceased to be that delicate flower which was preserved and painstakingly cultivated in one or two sheltered areas of a soil rich in wild species […] Mankind has opted for monoculture; it is in the process of creating a mass civilization, as beetroot is grown in the mass. Henceforth, man's daily bill of fare will consist only of this one item.
-- Claude Levi-Strauss

* Drawing from the tragic lessons of nuclear atrocities experienced by the Indigenous Peoples we recognize that the testing, development and use of nuclear weapons is a crime against all humanitarian law…
-- Hilda Lini

Let us learn from nuclear radiation victims and prevent history from repeating itself.
-- Hilda Lini

* Although we are in different boats you in your boat and we in our canoe we share the same river of life.
Chief Oren Lyons, Onandaga Nation

The role of globalization is to homogenize all cultures, and to turn them into commodified markets, and therefore, to make them easier for global corporations to control. Global corporations are even now trying to commodify all remaining aspects of national cultures, not to mention indigenous cultures.
-- Jerry Mander

"I want to be remembered as the person who helped us restore faith in ourselves."
-- Wilma Mankiller

"One of the things my parents taught me, and I'll always be grateful for the gift, is to not ever let anybody else define me."
-- Wilma Mankiller

* I think the most important issue we have as a people is what we started, and that is to begin to trust our own thinking again and belive in ourselves enough to think that we can articulate our own vision of the future and then work to make sure that that vision becomes a reality.
-- Wilma Mankiller

* We are not myths of the past, ruins in the jungle, or zoos. We are people and we want to be respected, not to be victims of intolerance and racism. 
-- Rigoberta Menchu, Guatemala Nobel Peace Prize Winner, 1992

Any journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step. The collision of short and long food chains strategies are at the basis of our current crisis. Indigenous peoples living on their ancestral lands can help industrialized countries by living in a sustainable manner (not the contrary). If we destroy their environments and communities, we will lose the answers they have to solving our problems, and to the protection of our common futures. The most complex nuclear power station is less important than a tropical tree, and the most simple and sustainable answer more useful than any National Library.
-- Raúl Montenegro
"Throughout the world today there is a gowing awareness of the failings of the Western model of development and a corresponding desire to look for more human-scale, ecological ways of living. If Ladakh now succeeds in creating for itself a future which retains the foundations of its traditional past, it will be an inspiring example of how all the various elements of an ecological future fit together."
-- Helena Norberg-Hodge

"We are now facing a difficult situation in Peru, where there are attempts to cut back the territorial rights of the indigenous peoples, including moves to divide, fragment and privatise our communal organisations. Now more than ever, it is a matter of urgency for us to consolidate our own indigenous alternatives for development."
-- Evaristo Nugkuag Ikanan

The forest is not a resource for us, it is life itself. It is the only place for us to live.
-- Evaristo Nugkuag Ikanan

I support the indigenous people anywhere in the planet.
-- Edward James Olmos

My experience in living and working with indigenous people has given me the hope that I have - they have taught me concretely that humans have the capacity to be marvelous, and not destructive.
--Juan Pablo Orrego

All the issues that we face are connected. Worldwide, ecosystems are being destroyed, and indigenous peoples are losing their homelands and their entire way of life.
~ Ocean Robbins

I guess you could say that we indigenous peoples are on the verge of turning it all upside down."
-- Pauline Tangiora

Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and strengthen their distinct political, economic, social and cultural characteristics, as well as their legal systems, while retaining their rights to participate fully, if they so choose, in the political, economic, social and cultural life of the State.
-- Article 4, from Draft Universal Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (1993)


Indigenous Day
- August 9

 

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